Let's track important developments as we notice them: New ideas, projects and research that extend our capabilities and our ability to implement them.
3Aug'23: Long-haul trucking (the big rigs hauling most everything from coast to coast) is likely to be the first place self-driving vehicles are seen at large scale. Volvo has opened an office in Fort Worth, Texas dedicated to driving activities to set up its first autonomous freight corridors that will run Dallas Forth Worth to El Paso and Dallas to Houston. To prepare for commercial launch, Volvo has started to haul loads manually for key customers like DHL and Uber Freight to test aspects of the autonomous transport solution. The trucks are diesel-powered, but in a green economy must eventually become electric. While batteries can power smaller vehicles for shorter distances, hydrogen-electric propulsion is the only system likely to handle the big rigs. https://tinyurl.com/437kn2s8
2Sept'22: The new U.S. laws funding a great deal of work on climate change mitigation should multiply their effectiveness by encouraging private investments and research. A lot is happening at the moment; here's a summary of some recent items: August 30, 2022 - by Heather Cox Richardson (substack.com)
2Sept'22: Alstom in Europe is selling significant numbers of H-powered passenger trains, to be used for regional service on lines without overhead electric power. It's a good start. Press releases and news | Alstom
8March'22: Good, wide-ranging article on battery development, including info that some 13 new battery plants are planned for the U.S. https://tinyurl.com/2p95p9mp
1Dec'21: Aurora.tech is an interesting player in self-driving. They are taking the "slow road", developing software in concert with major vehicle manufacturers including Volvo, Toyota, Mercedes and Class A semi-trucks. The manufacturers are installing the necessary hardware in current vehicles already. (I rented a Toyota RAV4 a year ago and was impressed with its ability to essentially self-drive already, just using sensors and radar. It took me through Denver's rush hour on its own [I was watching very closely]. Impressive.)
When satisfied with their software's Interstate-level performance, Aurora will offer it to its semi-truck partners. Given good performance, especially where the trucks enter a city to deliver loads, the software may be deemed usable in passenger cars. Aurora decided not to offer interim, limited-use self-driving capabilities, suitable only for certain areas in certain cities. Instead, they've developed a computer program that allows simulations of driving problems - they can run tens of thousands of versions of a problem in the computer, then test the solution on a vehicle (as I understand the approach). This makes sense. When released, their program should function anywhere in the US.
17Sept'21: Ford, Walmart, Argo AI and Lyft are partnering to deliver groceries in driverless cars in several U.S. cities. https://tinyurl.com/raac2ku3 . This is a step toward "A Tale of Two Commutes", a story provided here.
14Sept'21: I've now published a second article on the web-based Hydrogen Fuel News, at https://tinyurl.com/33syb2dz and https://tinyurl.com/2d7crwkh . The first suggests that Ford should modify their upcoming Lightning F150 pickup truck to run on hydrogen rather than batteries, to extend it's range. The second outlines a proposal for Ford and the DOE to co-develop 100 hydrogen fueling stations around the country to provide initial support for the "LightningH". A third article, describing use of the LightningH chassis to develop a very capable Class B campervan, is now available on HFN at https://tinyurl.com/hw9854vx .
14Sept'21: Relatively low pressure H storage now appears more likely. A "molecular sponge" system may also increase the amount of H that can be stored in a vehicle. The system uses "...a manganese hydride molecular sieve that can be readily synthesized from inexpensive precursors and demonstrates a reversible excess adsorption performance of 10.5 wt% and 197 kgH2 m-3 at 120 bar at ambient temperature with no loss of activity after 54 cycles." https://tinyurl.com/k373ktbt
7Aug'21: Here's a company that's developing hydrogen possibilities in many areas:
22June'21: Wyoming is moving away from coal and toward revenue and jobs from wind energy. That's good news for residents, and for the rest of the planet. https://tinyurl.com/4s25m3kd
11June'21: NREL has released a report showing the cost of constructing a gas station for hydrogen vehicles (including our proposed F150 LightningH :) : $3 million can put a hydrogen station on the ground. It will use excess green electricity to pull hydrogen from water and store it right at the station. Larger storage tanks and electrolyzers will be needed to support larger-scale vehicle traffic, but let's jump-start the process with 100 of these 120-kg/day units installed all around the country. https://tinyurl.com/3sx636sp
3June'21: I've published an article in the June 1st Hydrogen Fuel News about improving Ford's F150 Lightning battery-powered pickup truck by converting it to hydrogen power. The truck's range increases to more than 1000 miles, from 300 -- very important for a vehicle that's meant to tow. https://tinyurl.com/jsvz8wh3
31May'21: A new International Energy Agency report was released in mid-May 2021: https://tinyurl.com/39ydym88 . That report concludes that, globally "There should be no sales of new internal combustion engine passenger cars and the global electricity sector must reach net zero emissions by 2040...." Further, "Massive deployment of renewable energy will be needed. Almost 90% of electricity generation should come from renewables by 2050 and most of the rest from nuclear power. Solar photovoltaic additions should reach 630 gigawatts a year by 2030 and wind power needs to rise to 390 GW. Together, this is four times the annual record set last year for new capacity additions."
Our analysis (see Post #1 on this website) leads to installation of 24 billion solar panels by 2050, an average of 240 solar gigawatts per year. (That's just for the U.S.) Similarly, we conclude that 230 GW/y of wind power must be installed. Allowing for differences in assumptions and timelines, our estimates are similar to those of the IEA.
17May'21: Hydrogen storage at reasonable temperature and pressure may soon be possible. https://tinyurl.com/2f8vf5ve
17May'21: Airbus concept for H-Plane. https://tinyurl.com/x2tjy222
11May'21: Huge solar project being developed in the right place -- Put 'em where the sun does shine! (Then, move the energy up north via DC high-voltage lines.) https://tinyurl.com/ecw4a7ds
11May'21: From the United Nations: “Cutting methane is the strongest lever we have to slow climate change over the next 25 years and complements necessary efforts to reduce carbon dioxide." https://tinyurl.com/3jfwhuw
11May'21: Progress on H-powered aircraft. It's important that we move straight to H-fueled turbines for full-size planes. Interim solutions such as crop-based fuels in conventional engines put CO2 right back into the atmosphere. We'll just have to extract it again, later. https://tinyurl.com/4veuyn4u
11May'21: Yellowstone's providing driverless shuttles! Can luxurious H-Vans be far behind? ;) https://tinyurl.com/2kt9e7cy
1May'21: Honda has announced a gradual planned increase in its sales of battery and hydrogen-electric vehicles, to 100% by 2040. https://tinyurl.com/5xwrve8r
1May'21: A very detailed report on global energy storage is available at: https://tinyurl.com/2nab8trm . Well worth reading, especially for the excellent graphics that make it easy to see the changes forecast over the next 30 years. (Note that energy storage should always be reported in GWh, as is done here, rather than in GW. GWh defines the actual storage capacity of a system; it shows how much actual capacity is being added to the grid.)
This report notes that, by 2050, 4500 GWh of energy storage will have been built into the global grid. That storage will back up renewable energy sources as output rises and falls with wind and sun.
Ideally, the energy storage available (or nuclear generating capacity present) should be enough to keep large regions running overnight, during periods when both wind and sun are producing minimally.
1May'21: Toyota is developing a hydrogen fuel cell system that, in conjunction with batteries, and overhead electric lines where available, will power railroad locomotives for long-distance use. The system takes advantage of the strengths and cost advantages of the three systems, providing a locomotive that will function cost-effectively in all situations. https://tinyurl.com/7hzkvmtc
1May'21: https://flagships.eu/about/ . This report discusses development of a cargo ship using 1 MW of hydrogen fuel cell power (about 1600 hp) that will carry goods on the Seine River. Advances like this are important since a significant portion of global CO2 emissions is produced by the huge number of very large ocean-going cargo vessels supporting world trade. Hydrogen to replace the heavy-oil cargo vessel fuel is the likely green alternative.
For comparison, a large cargo ship's diesel engine produces 80,000 horsepower. Rapid development of hydrogen-fueled propulsion systems toward this power level is necessary to bring this CO2 source to zero by 2050.
1May'21: https://tinyurl.com/5cyhwfs4 discusses arguments by the electric utilities against continuing reimbursements at full-retail kWh pricing, to homeowners installing rooftop solar.
Regardless of the arguments, encouraging individuals to install solar power is an excellent, obvious and potentially large-scale way to finance solar panel installations, and it's reasonable to spread the cost over the entire population via the reimbursement approach. It should be reinforced via Federal legislation, to avoid reducing incentives over time.
Also - existing tax incentives and all other financial incentives should be extended to allow individual ownership of perhaps 20 solar panels each, installed in a large, local wind farm that feeds energy into the local grid. Because panels installed properly in a large, open site almost always produce much more energy than those installed on rooftops, that's a more efficient used of solar panels at much less cost to the individual.
4April'21: The Roosevelt Institute has published a major, up-to-date report on decarbonization solutions. It is encouraging, especially in terms of real-world methods to get the effort funded. Example thoughts from the report:
"The climate crisis is not a problem for future generations; it is happening now, and it requires immediate action. Sea levels are rising. Storms and droughts are becoming more severe. Climate change is already contributing to displacement, refugee crises, and political instability. While the effects in the United States and other rich countries are, so far, less catastrophic than in much of Africa, Latin America, and South Asia, they are present and certain to grow worse. The policy tools we have deployed for the last 50 years are incapable of tackling these challenges. It is past time to mobilize all of society’s resources and capabilities to address this crisis."
"American politics and policymaking have been guided by a mistaken vision of economic scarcity, which held that addressing the climate crisis must involve further sacrifices by those already falling behind."
"More broadly, it means that the real resources required by a massive economic program like deep decarbonization are not being withdrawn from other uses but rather will call forth production that would otherwise not take place."
That last thought is a key: We will create new industries and new jobs at enormous scale to handle this enormous problem. It's not a sacrifice, it's a net plus. Take a look: https://tinyurl.com/vbp4h7je
1April'21: Danish company Orsted plans to develop a 2 gigawatt (GW) offshore wind facility and 1 GW of electrolyzer capacity, supported by companies including ArcelorMittal, Yara and Dow — It will include 45 kilometers of hydrogen pipeline between Belgium and the Netherlands. https://tinyurl.com/3bhucpbs